Honorable Mention: Eric Bowman, Oregon
What inspired your winning entry? I had set up a model for an entirely different genre scene, but when we put the scarf on her, she suddenly became a Russian domestic. I immediately scrapped my original idea and went with this unintended surprise. Sometimes a model calls the shots without even knowing it, and the result ends up being far better than what I had planned.
Where did you study art? I remember the smell of oils and turpentine as a 5-year-old, watching my father paint as a hobby. I learned to draw on my own, and I was always the class artist throughout school. But I never had formal training. Instead, I drew every day, studied art books, made many trips to museums and galleries, and spent endless hours as a professional in a number of illustration studios for 20 years. I began to paint earnestly with oils about 15 years ago, and my study of art has never ended.
How would you describe your style? Real impressionism. Someone else coined that term, meaning a mixture of realism and impressionism, and I think it fits. I strive for the “truth in beauty” that my artist friend Tim Solliday speaks of, where realism plays second fiddle to the emotional content of light, color, and texture. I’ve painted for many years with a high amount of detail, but now I’m interested in editing down to the essential elements that make a strong statement, utilizing less analytical thinking and more intuitive functioning.
What is one thing most people don’t know about you? I’m a closet fan of the Gidget TV series, along with those dorky Frankie and Annette beach movies. It’s a Southern California nostalgic thing. Now you know.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received? Bring your wife some flowers in the middle of the day, for no reason at all.
What is your pet peeve? Outdated garage- sale signs.
If you weren’t an artist, what would you be? What kind of sick, twisted question is that?
What is one thing you will never paint? A warmly lit cottage on a bluff overlooking the ocean at sunset after a gentle rain.
What’s the most meaningful recognition you’ve received for your artwork? I have received many awards and recognition over the years, but a real standout was the time our 6-year-old daughter, Lily, recognized my dejection at the end of a particularly hard day of struggling with an important painting. She fashioned a gold first-prize trophy cup out of some cardboard and watercolor, making everything all better.